Apparently the San Francisco branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has recently been ordered by the city to stop using a robot to patrol the sidewalks outside its office.
The robot, produced by Silicon Valley startup Knightscope, was used to ensure that homeless people didn’t set up camps outside of the nonprofit’s office. It autonomously patrols a set area using a combination of Lidar and other sensors, and can alert security services of potentially criminal activity.
So lets get this straight… It was used to keep homeless from setting up camps outside its office? If I didn’t know better I would say that this is harassment of the homeless plain and simple. Of course nobody wants camps of homeless people ruining the overall appearance of the neighborhood but lets look at the root of the problem. Isn’t it the fact that there are so many homeless in the city? What is being done to correct the core problem here?
These robots have had a string of mishaps in the past. One fell into a pond in Washington, DC, in July. Another ran over a child’s foot in California in 2016. And Uber, which is no stranger to the ethical quandaries of what it means to be gainfully employed by a company, has used the robots in San Francisco.
At bare minimum the robots are marginally helpful but running over people’s feet and diving into ponds doesn’t sound very promising. Of course this technology is just starting to be released and development in this industry is happening at an extremely rapid pace.
According to Popular Science, Knightscope’s business model, is renting robots to customers for $7 an hour, which is about $3 less than minimum wage in California. The company has apparently raised over $15 million from thousands of small investors.
In a particularly dystopian move, it seems that the San Francisco SPCA adorned the robot it was renting with stickers of cute kittens and puppies, according to Business Insider, as it was used to shoo away the homeless from near its office.
This is one of the biggest scandals of December 2017 certainly! There is certainly some possibility that this story has seen a bit of exageration but with all the problems homeless people face do they really need to fend away robots as well?
San Francisco recently voted to cut down on the number of robots that roam the streets of the city, which has seen an influx of small delivery robots in recent years. The city said it would issue the SPCA a fine of $1,000 per day for illegally operating on a public right-of-way if it continued to use the security robot outside its premises, the San Francisco Business Times said.
I believe this was the right move by San Francisco and there is certainly going to be some fallout for the SPCA. At bare minimum they’ve hurt the odds of some of their K9 and feline friends who may not be adopted before being put to sleep because of a change in public sentiment to the organization.
What do you guys think of this? Does it seem like a dire message to be aware of the coming technocracy steadily gaining ground in our world?
Robots are being used to shoo away homeless people in San Francisco – Quartz